"Live ignorance rots us worse than any grave" — Philip Whelan [woops, I meant Whalen] from the poem: "For C."
I always dug that quote from the too little known now Philip Whelan since I first read it half a century ago.
It seems even more appropriate now.
I recently read about "The Dunning-Kruger effect" in the July 5th New Yorker. It's about how "people who don't know much tend not to recognize their ignorance, and so fail to seek better information."
It cites studies where people are sure they got answers correct but didn't, etc.
It's like our whole society, and too many in the rest of the world, are suffering from it.
Like in recent polls that show a vast majority of our fellow citizens think it was President Obama who bailed out the banks with the TARP funds, when it was the previous administration that came up with and executed that plan.
And a majority think Obama has raised taxes when his administration (with a majority Democratic Congress) actually lowered taxes for most of us, especially working people and the non-wealthiest among us.
It's not just a case of the influence of rightwing Republicans on the media, which is obviously extensive (see today's brouhaha over an administration member from the Department of Agriculture being canned in response to a rightwing internet attack on her and the NAACP because of a speech she made to that group in which an excerpt was taken out of context to show she's "racist" even though in context she was talking about coming to terms with the reality that, to paraphrase her, it's not about black and white, it's about rich and poor, whereas she had previously thought it was the former, being an older African-American woman who grew up in the South during segregation).
Nor is it simply that the education system has failed to keep up with the world as it is and instead is struggling to incorporate a corporate mentality into a centuries-old approach to learning when neither is adequate to the challenges we face to actual considered thinking, i.e. logic and reasoning etc.
It's more like some movie satire (several of which have been made in recent years) about the elevation of ignorance to not just acceptance but an honored place in the national dialogue about what's needed to solve some of this country's most pressing problems.
The idea that somehow allowing a building two blocks away from Ground Zero in Manhattan that will accommodate Islamic prayer as well as interfaith activities etc. is somehow a threat to the country that enshrined religious freedom in its Constitution and that those who are objecting the most claim to be the lone defenders of that Constitution is just one so obvious and sad example of the level of discourse now being carried on in the media and obviously in people's minds.
The subtle and the nuanced are too difficult for too many of our fellow citizens now who need the "black and white" simplicity of received but incomplete or incorrect "knowledge" to satisfy their own sense of knowing things they obviously haven't a clue about.
[PS: Thanks to my son Miles for pointing me to this recent Paul Krugman summation of another example of seemingly willful ignorance at play in our national dialogue about the economy.]
[PPS: Thanks to Butch who suggested a link to an article (see comments) that led me to this link that almost breaks your heart (as did her whole speech which I listened to this morning and was moved and touched by her courage and insight and willingness to change her youthful attitudes anout race despite the fact her father was murdered by white racists!)]